SJC Month 7: Why the Good Samaritan Doesn’t Cross the Road

By July 20, 2010 culture, faith No Comments

Tears are readily flowing from my eyes as I turn them to focus on worldwide poverty for this month’s Social Justice Challenge topic.

And that’s a good thing.

Tears soften the deadened places of the heart. Tears make the heart malleable, ready to be shaped into a living, beating muscle that can feel and flex and work.

The tears are brought on by a book by Richard Stearns called The Hole in Our Gospel. It’s one of those books you can’t put down or stop thinking about, even as it lacerates your heart. [Despite the ache it causes, this book should be required reading for the human race. Have you read it? Do share what you learned!]

The truth is I needed to be broken. You see, I thought I was compassionate toward the disadvantaged and poverty stricken. I assumed that if someone was in my path and in desperate need that I would step up and be the Good Samaritan that Jesus commended in one of His parables.

Have you heard this parable? It’s found in Luke’s Gospel account (see Luke 10:30–37). Jesus told of a man left for dead on the side of the road. A priest and a Levite—both religious leaders—crossed the road to avoid a direct encounter with this needy man. Then a man from Samaria came along the same way. Jewish people thought the Samaritans to be sketchy folks; but it was the Samaritan who had compassion upon the needy man’s plight and was moved to get involved. Involvement cost the Samaritan time, effort, and money.

I have fooled myself into thinking I would be the Samaritan if the needy were in my path. But I have, like the priest and Levite, altered my path to avoid the needy. When the needy have been in my path even indirectly, through news and Web sites and documentaries, I have crossed the road more often than not.

I am not the Good Samaritan. The only regular move I have made is to the other side of the road as I follow in the self-absorbed footsteps of the priest and the Levite.

Hence, my many tears of sorrow and conviction brought by the Holy Spirit who has awakened my heart to feel compassion toward the downtrodden. He is calling me to follow in the Samaritan’s footsteps—to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, who so loved the world that He willingly got involved in our plight. I want to follow Jesus directly into the path of the needy and get involved as He did.

Why doesn’t the Good Samaritan cross the road to avoid the man left for dead? Because he was following in the footsteps of Jesus. And if he crossed the road, he would miss out on the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to someone in dire need.

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